When you're a rock n' roll photographer, even your file cabinets kick ass

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Bob Gruen is one of the world’s most famous and arguably greatest rock n’ roll photographers. He's taken pictures of John Lennon and Yoko Ono when they lived in New York, documented punk rock hotbed CBGBs--snapping pics of Blondie, Television, the Ramones and others--and worked with bands like Green Day. Scrolling through Gruen’s work is like taking a visual tour of the history of American pop music.

Gruen lives and works at the Westbeth Artists Community, a nonprofit housing organization in the West Village that provides affordable rent to over 400 artists. His dozens of file cabinets are filled to the brim with images of Kiss, the Rolling Stones, and more. So it's no surprise that Gruen's visitors gravitate toward his archives.

He told us about them:

I have a just-under-1,000-square foot loft where I live and work, and I have a dark room here. I moved in in 1975 with two file cabinets, and I now have more than 20. I’ve filled them up with pictures. I’ve put names on the front of each file cabinet to order them. For example, one says Manitoba for Handsome Dick Manitoba, the lead singer of the Dictators, one says John Lennon, another Psycho Sluts From Hell, another rock band.

Above, Gruen took this iconic photo of John Lennon (Photo credit: Bob Gruen)

People--mostly researchers and collectors and friends--come all the time to look at them. It seems to be the thing that people comment on the most, and they are all full of great pictures. They often say it looks like a museum.

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